FAYLAND HOUSE

Slung over a sloped field of open ground poised to bloom with wildflowers, David Chipperfield’s Fayland House begins with a concern for context and history. Looking closely, however, the house transcends those qualities in search of a classic timelessness. 

Living spaces languish alongside one another on the front, opening to the view, while ancillary spaces tucked behind rejoice in light from the courtyards. The resulting quiet interplay of interior space and varied landscapes is captured as the camera pans, silently through space in the film. The overlap of view and frame lends a quiet expansiveness to the project. 

But it is the unmodulated run of circular columns along the front of the house which most intrigues us. The chalky, mortar-sponged white-brick is heavy and full and of the earth; with a generosity which extends the house outwards to the sky. Somehow regular and yet surprising, the columns express a classicism which is beyond perception. In an article in Architectural Review, Ellis Woodman perceptively suggested the effect of the columns is similar to the effects cultivated by the work of artist Donald Judd. He concluded his thoughts with a grace so deserved by the building that I cannot help but defer to him here:

The abiding impression is therefore one of invitation to movement. It is a house where one lives on one’s feet and takes pleasure in the constantly shifting relationship to the landscape beyond.

IN THE LANDSCAPE

   

  

The volumetric and monolithic basic principle was emphasised by the exclusive usage of the white exterior rendering. The main focus lies therefore on the exterior’s elementary colour and the slight nuances achieved by the aggregates in the plaster.
— Frank Oberlerchner, Pedevilla Architects.

The off-white monolithic form of House at Mill Creek appears as object set within and against the landscape. At different proximities, the building reveals itself differently: the triangulated plan, the carefully located square windows set deep and black in the facades, and the subtle depth of texture to the external render. The facade comes alive as light moves across it, echoing the textural density of the forest-clad mountains behind. 

The house reminds us of the mountains, but perhaps more-so of other familiar architectures of the area. The gable roof, articulated eave, and rendered form express known ways of making and being in this landscape, each slightly reconfigured to bring us a composition which warms us with its clarity and sense of the new.